What is home insurance?
Home insurance (or house insurance) protects you from insured events that damage your home or your belongings. For example, if your home is damaged or destroyed in a fire, having the right insurance could mean the insurance provider will pay to replace your belongings and repair or rebuild your home.
Home insurance consists of buildings insurance and contents insurance, which can be bought separately or together from the same provider.
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What does home insurance cover?
There are two types of cover available, buildings insurance and contents insurance.
Buildings insurance – covers the structure of the property and the fixed fittings inside your home. It protects your home from things like fire, flood, storms, falling trees or vandalism. Also, it may cover you for things like subsidence, water damage and burst pipes.
Contents insurance – this covers your possessions inside your home, like your furniture, clothes and TV (carpets are usually included too). There are some exceptions to this rule: for example, some fixed fittings may come under buildings insurance, so always check your policy to see what’s included in the definition of ‘contents’.
As with buildings cover, it protects things in your home against fire, floods, vandalism, etc. It’s always a good idea to check with your policy provider to clarify what is and isn’t included, if you’re unsure.
What’s the difference between buildings and contents insurance?
Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing any damage to the structure of your property. This includes things like the roof, walls and floors as well as permanent fittings and fixtures, such as windows or fitted kitchens. Contents insurance covers the cost of damaged, destroyed or stolen items inside your home, such as your furniture, jewellery and clothes.
Do I need to have home insurance?
Neither buildings insurance nor contents insurance are a legal requirement. But by having both, you’ll have protection for your property and belongings in case something unexpected happens.
If you own your home and have a mortgage, your mortgage provider may insist that you have buildings insurance in place for the length of your mortgage. You can buy this insurance from any provider, not just your mortgage provider.
What type of home insurance do I need?
You might need buildings or contents insurance – or both. Here are the basics in a nutshell.
- If you own your own home, you may want to take out both buildings and contents insurance. This is because you’re responsible for any damage caused to your home.
- If you’re renting, buildings insurance is usually the responsibility of your landlord. However, you may want to purchase contents insurance to protect your personal belongings. Find out more about rental contents insurance.
- If you’re a landlord, you’re responsible for buildings insurance to cover the property you own and rent out. If you rent out a furnished property, you can also protect your contents against damage or theft through a landlord policy. Find out more about landlord insurance.
- If you have a holiday home, you may want to take out both buildings and contents insurance. Be mindful it can be more expensive than regular home insurance, as holiday homes are often left unoccupied. Find out more about unoccupied property insurance.
Frequently asked questions
How can I make my home insurance cheaper?
There are a few simple steps you can take to try to reduce the cost of your home insurance:
- Shop around: Every time your contents and/or buildings insurance comes up for renewal, run a fresh quote at Compare the Market. You may find a provider that can offer you a cheaper policy than your current provider, but with the same level of cover.
- Consider a combined policy: If you need contents and buildings insurance, you might pay less if you buy both from the same provider.
- Boost security: Using high-quality locks on your doors and windows, and installing a burglar alarm could help make your home insurance cheaper.
- Avoid instalments: If you can afford it, pay your premium upfront in one go. If you opt to pay in monthly instalments, you might be charged interest on top.
How high should I set my home insurance excess?
How high you set your home insurance excess depends on how much you can afford.
With compulsory excess, your insurance provider sets the amount and you can’t change it.
With voluntary excess, you can change the amount. By raising your voluntary excess, your premiums are likely to be cheaper. But don’t set it too high – you want to make sure you can afford to pay both the compulsory and voluntary excess, should you need to make a claim.
Does my credit score affect home insurance?
Having a poor credit score may affect the cost of home insurance. But you’re still likely to be able to find an insurance provider with a policy and price that suits you.
Are valuables only protected inside the home?
For your valuables to be protected outside your home, you’ll need personal possessions cover. Some insurance providers include it as a standard feature with contents insurance, but others don’t.
If you do have personal possessions cover, restrictions could apply to what items you’ll be covered for outside the home. You’ll also need to add any valuable items worth more than £1,500 to your quote individually, to make sure they’re covered while you’re out and about.
What are home insurance add-ons?
Home insurance add-ons include:
- Home emergency cover – Provides immediate help in an emergency situation if there’s a risk of further damage to the property, or a risk to family members’ health and safety. For example, a broken boiler in the winter or a leaking pipe.
- Accidental damage – This covers mishaps caused by you or your family that result in unforeseen damage. For example, spilling wine on the carpet or putting your foot through the floor.
- Personal possessions – This covers you for items you carry outside the home, if they get lost or stolen.
- Legal expenses – If you had to make a civil claim, legal expenses would typically cover the legal costs and expenses. It’s sometimes included as standard on home insurance policies.
Do I need home insurance add-ons?
You may decide you need home insurance add-ons if you think your standard policy doesn’t give you enough cover in specific areas. For example, adding accidental damage to your policy would typically cover things like ink stains on furniture, or orange juice stains on the carpet.
What do I need to get a quote?
When you start a home insurance quote with us, it’s a good idea to have some basic information about your property, including:
- Your current home insurance policy documents
- Details about your property
- The rebuild value of your home
- The level of cover you need
We’ll ask you questions to make sure we have all the information we need, including your personal details, to provide you with a list of suitable quotes.
The results will also show you optional extras you might want to consider, such as accidental damage insurance.Start a quote
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